Funny, we are ending on the same chapter that we ended on for The Blind Cannot See What the Mute Cannot Say… SWEET! By the way, this is twelve pages long and it has three scene changes. Ya, it's a doosy!

Chapter Eighteen

Time Will Tell

Aragorn rolled over and easily deduced that that was a very bad idea.

A flare of pain erupted in his side and he curled in on himself, gasping as the air was torn away from his lungs.

He knew the pain was not as intense as it had been, but that did not mean it didn't hurt.

The ranger could hear the sound of soft footfalls and could feel a cool hand upon his, now much cooler, forehead.

"Your fever broke quite a few hours ago." A voice above him mused.

'Probably the voice with the hand and feet…' he thought idly, smiling at how odd that sounded. 'Voices don't have hands or feet- people do.' He reasoned, feeling thrilled that he could finally again think of these things without feeling an urge to pass out.

"Estel?"

He breathed deeply and turned over as the pain subsided.

"I'm here, Ada." He chuckled. "I was just thinking."

The voice of his adoptive father sounded interested. "Oh, what were you thinking about, ion nin?"

Deciding his father would probably has a massive meltdown if he told him what he was thinking about, he licked his lips and answered: "Well, about the young hobbit, of course. How does he fare?"

Elrond's voice was filled with a smile.

"There is no doubt that, had he been without help an hour more, he would have surely succumbed." The elf-lord paused and Estel mentally filled in a "but". "But, thanks to you and Glorfindel, he will be just fine. In truth, he might even wake up today."

Aragorn laughed and gently rubbed his nose.

"Is that why I smell cheese biscuits and raspberry bunt cake?"

"My, my. Your perception has not been tampered with, to the chagrin of your brothers." To Aragorn's mild surprise, the elf lord laughed.

"Well, they were always jealous…" he answered as he leaned back upon the pillows.

He groaned as his head swirled and he felt the tender touch of his father as Elrond checked over his youngest son.

"To answer your first question, yes. It was brought forward that his, somewhat safe, arrival should be celebrated and then he can also meet a few of the peoples that may, somehow, carry on the task."

"Who is present?" he hissed as he felt the elf lord pull the bandaging away from his side. Elrond touched the sore, now cleaned and stitched spot gently and let out a series of "tsk's".

"Oh, just a few elves, men, and dwarves from the surrounding countries."

Aragorn nodded, shying away as his father began to rub healing ointment upon the treacherous wound.

"Estel, hold still." The Lord of Rivendell groaned as he, as if controlling and obstinate child, grasped the man's strong arm and held it down upon the bed.

He chuckled and shook his dark head. "Eru knows I haven't had to hold you down in years."

The man shuddered and clenched his teeth in a tight, nostalgic smile. "It hasn't hurt this bad in years."

"It hasn't hurt this bad in years or is it that you haven't been home in years?"

Stunned by these words, the ranger fell silent as Elrond, obviously regretting having said that, wordlessly wrapped his son's wound with careful, trained fingers.

He couldn't see his father's face, but he could feel, not only the tension but also the melancholy wistfulness. That was the familiar feeling every time he came home. Sorrow, pain, and often-regretful memories plagued his none to frequent visits to the place of his somewhat happy childhood.

But no matter how much he longed to change them, he knew he could not.

As he finished this thought, his father touched his shoulder with a hesitant hand and Aragorn could feel his sad smile beaming down on him.

He knew Elrond wasn't crying, for the mighty elf lord rarely cried, but he was sure that inside the Lord's heart was torn in two and Estel knew, as much as he longed to mend it, he could not. No words he could speak would fix his father's crying soul.

His destiny was his destiny, no matter how foolish and he could not give it up. Not even under the circumstances. If he was to die fighting for his rightful place, then so be it. He would not rot here while the world was slowly taken over by Sauron.

"Take it easy, ion nin." The elf lord stated simply, bringing Aragorn from his pessimistic thoughts. "You may visit Frodo if you wish, but please don't forget to rest. Your assistance and knowledge of these halls will be needed to help out guests find their way to the dining hall tonight."

Aragorn nodded softly and, after hearing his father exit the room and continue down the hall, he rose to his feet.

Once he had found his old cherry-wood cane, Estel slowly made his way toward Frodo's room in hopes to check and make sure that the hobbit was truly all right.

Slowly he made his way out the door and smiled warmly as the familiar sounds and smells reminded him, oh so dearly, of the home he used to know.

Warmth and a cool breeze were the first thing that captured Frodo Baggin's attention for the warmth he had not felt in quite a long time and the breeze, well, it was a comforting thing.

He smiled, wriggling slowly among the comfortable bed sheets and realizing that all that adventuring must have been nothing more than some horrible, and at the same time magical, dream.

Frodo's breath came out in one slow sigh and he stretched a little, but feeling the uncomfortable pull at his shoulder he realized, as well, that something was wrong.

A dull pain began to throb in his collar and he gulped as he slowly opened pale, blue eyes and looked about the pure and graceful world.

"Where am I?" his eyes shifted as he saw the white, wood beams above his head.

A voice startled him and he sat up quickly, despite the pain in his shoulder.

He was astounded and smiled wide as his eyes were met with a very dear friend whom he had thought he might never see again.

"Gandalf!" he cried, but was taken aback when the friendly, old wizard put a gnarled finger to his lips and smiled smugly, his eyes turning away from Frodo.

The hobbit followed Gandalf's gaze and smiled when he saw Aragorn's lengthy, slim form reclining in a beautifully decorated chair.

The ranger's unseeing, silver eyes were closed loosely and he was breathing softly, snoring every so often but not enough to be obnoxious.

A cherry-wood cane was cuddled close to his chest and his face, thought pale, looked far more healthy and cleaner than it had when he had first met the faithful guide in Bree.

Smiling a little and chuckling softly, Frodo turned to the wizard and saw a twinkle in his deep eyes. That same mischievous twinkle he had seen the day before old Bilbo's special birthday party.

"What?" the hobbit asked, raising a dark eyebrow.

The wizard, grinning, leaned forward and placed a hand to one side of his lips.

"I think the lad's quite taken with you Frodo." As Gandalf said this, Frodo gave him another look of disbelief. "Be honored. He doesn't often make special trips to visit deathly ill hobbits in the infirmary wing of Rivendell."

"Is 'lad' really the correct word?" The dark haired hobbit leaned back on his mass of comfortable pillows and breathed deep the cool Imladris air.

Gandalf, looking pensive, shrugged and lit his pipe and, without another word, placed it in his mouth. He only spoke after he had smoked a few minutes, and by then, Frodo had closed his eyes again.

"No, I suppose not." The Grey wizard said suddenly and, pulling the long pipe from his lips, let out a few puffs of smoke. "But, then again he is Numenorean so his age hasn't caught up with him yet." He winked at Frodo who had now opened his eyes. "But, mark my words it will." He scoffed. "In some ways, it's caught up with him too much already…"

A creaking to the side cut Gandalf off and his words trailed as both eyes turned to the man.

The lithe figure turned slightly, stretching one leg, but not the other and opening his eyes ever so slightly.

"Estel?"

Aragorn groaned as he turned so that his body could sit in the chair properly. He smiled sleepily and leaned upon his cane, but did not seem completely awake and did not even realize that Frodo was conscious.

Yawning and grimacing as his side began to throb from the awkward position in the chair, he touched the tender spot with a hand.

"Has Frodo awoken?"

The hobbit bit his lip as Gandalf raised his eyebrows and looked to Frodo with a devilish smile.

"Hmmm, no. Still sleeping quite soundly. I'm a bit worried for the lad- he's looking stiff and sore."

"Really?" Aragorn looked worried and he attempted to rise from his seat, that is, until Gandalf continued, hiding the humor in his deep voice.

"Yes." He winked at Frodo. "Poor thing looks like he hasn't eaten in days. Aragorn, did you starve the creature?"

At this, Aragorn looked absolutely petrified and shook his head wildly.

"N-no! I told the rascal to eat. I don't starve my charges-"

Frodo could not take the torture anymore and he, at once, reached over and grasped the man's cold hand. This made Estel jump ten feet and he gasped almost squeaking in fright.

"It's all right, Strider. I'm awake." He turned his eyes suspiciously on the mischievous wizard. "Gandalf's been torturing you for fun."

"Preposterous." Gandalf spat as he breathed out another cloud of smoke from his pipe. "I must be going blind." He chuckled dryly. "Didn't see the poor hobbit was awake. Sorry Frodo lad. Maybe next time you can speak up." He winked at the hobbit and rose to his feet, his gray robes billowing in the soft wind.

Obviously deciding that his fun had now been taken away, the old wizard licked his lips and pointed to both hobbit and man with his smoking pipe.

"Both of you be at the banquet tonight and Estel," he waited till the man turned towards his voice, and then continued. "You will be guiding our guests in room downstairs, to the left, fourth door."

Looking puzzled, the Numenorean ranger raised himself and turned towards Gandalf even more.

"Won't my father be giving me instructions-"

"Trust me, Estel." Gandalf piped before he could get another word out. And then, he was gone; smoke fluttering placidly where he had been only moments before.

Aragorn leaned back and Frodo looked at him with utter confusion, looking just as perplexed as Estel felt.

Outside the window they could hear a great trumpet being blown, but they were too far away to hear the crier as he shouted, his elegant words rolling upon the calming breeze.

"Welcome Prince Legolas, son of King Thranduil, and the Ambassadors of Mirkwood."

Rain pattered the cold ground outside upon the pale, elegant balcony and Estel felt the chill creeping into his bones as he adjusted his tunic and breeches.

He didn't at all feel fit to lead a bunch of elves, dwarves, or even men to the dining hall. He felt stiff and his leg was very uncooperative tonight, something that boasting of ill will to the healing man.

It wasn't that he hated guiding of any sort, it was simply that he abhorred the memories that flashed in his brain each time he did.

Memories of a silent Prince Legolas and a happy, yet tentative King Thranduil were always present in his mind these days. It wasn't at all exciting when he was made to think about he and Legolas's disbanding. It was a tender subject that brought much pain to his heart and, even after years and years, he still could not think about it with an untroubled conscious.

Licking dry lips, the man turned and grasped his cherry-wood cane before limping hurriedly as he could down the long corridor.

The runners upon the halls and stairs were something he could connect with. Even after so many long years, they remained in the same exact spot and position from when he was but a boy.

This thought alone helped memories resurface of him, as a child, tripping over the runners and rugs that adorned many of the halls in Imladris.

On one of the many occasions he had tripped and hit his head so hard that, although he had taken medication for his headaches, another resurfaced, more horrible than the original.

He remembered crying so hard that Elrond had to sedate him for fear that he would hyperventilate.

Chuckling, he shook his head and kept walking through the throngs of groups, searching for his room full of, well, whoever he was supposed to guide.

As he walked he heard Elrohir's voice as he guided a group of unruly dwarves through the long, large, echoing halls of Rivendell.

Following the feeling of the long, red runner the ranger slowly his limping gait and stopped before a rich, red wood door. It was carved elegantly as always and Estel smiled as he touched the elven art with tentative fingers.

Pulling away, he gulped down his nerves and rapped upon the door lightly, hoping that his charges were ready and he was not waking anyone up.

Leaning closer to the thick door, he heard muffled voices inside and chuckled. The unidentified voices were light and actually quite hurried now.

"Hold on a moment."

The man bowed his head as he heard the locks of the door unlatching and the handle, which was brass, turning ever so gently.

He heard the door creak and a voice, elven by the sound, spoke.

"You may come in, my lord is still getting ready."

Wondering what elves these were, Aragorn stepped forward, leaning heavily upon his cane as the rain and cold weather began to make his lame leg throb all the more.

Choosing a silent corner of the room, the man leaned against it and listened for any sign of where these strange elves might hail from.

He could hear some of them snickering and some were whispering, as though he couldn't hear their crude taunts, but he paid no attention. All of them seemed young and impudent, a trait many elves held onto for a few hundred years or more. Their cruel laughter meant nothing to Aragorn. Just because they were older, it did not also make them wiser.

"Legolas! Hurry up! Our guide is here!"

Aragorn's thoughts halted immediately and his breath came out in a silent gasp. He felt his heart accelerate and at once he felt the horrible urge to flee.

But as much as he wanted to, he could not. Gandalf had assigned this to him and if he fled now, he would not be honorably representing his father, and that was something he had to do.

He could hear the prince inside the bathing room and he heard Legolas coughing lightly as he answered.

"One moment."

It seemed an eternity to Aragorn before the impatient elf, probably one of Legolas's new friends, stamped his foot and shouted at the door.

"Legolas!"

At this point, the human was feeling very light-headed and he tried his best to calm his awkward breathing but as each moment crept on, he knew that eventually Legolas would come out and they would be faced with an uncomfortable moment that he was sure neither of them wanted.

Deciding that it would be better if he acted uninterested, Aragorn leaned more heavily against the wall and turned his sightless eyes to the ground- or at least what he thought was the ground. For all he knew he could be staring intensely at some elf's deerskin boot.

Just in time, the bathing room door opened and Legolas stomped out, obviously about to tear some unfortunate soul's head off, but stopped suddenly and all in the room went silent.

Once again realizing what a curse his sightlessness was, Aragorn chose to let the moment hold a little longer, but then gulped and raised himself from the wall, sighing.

"Are we ready to go on?" his question hung in the air a moment and he could hear the elf prince stumble back a little bit.

That only lasted hardly a second though. By the next minute one of the elves had grasped Legolas's arm and announced: "Aye, lead on surie pen!"

The name stung Aragorn and he winced, unnoticeably, as he turned for the door.

All the elves, save Legolas, laughed and snickered not even seeming to pay a flea's weight about the hurt they might be causing this poor, supposedly young man.

But they continued their banter and mocking, not even noticing that their prince seemed almost as if he'd seen a ghost.

"Estel?"

Aragorn heard Legolas, but he decided not to answer. It was better for the Prince of Mirkwood not to bother with him if at all possible. He had friends, money, everything someone could ask for- he did not need a useless blind man to tag along and see to his every whim.

Not too surprisingly, as they walked, the other Mirkwood elves found it quite amusing to run up behind Estel and try to kick his walking stick. It was safe to say that Aragorn, although frustrated, did not want to make a scene so he simply held his own and did not trip and did not fall. He did not fight back and he did not do anything to defend himself. He just walked, praying that this would soon be over and cursing Gandalf for doing this to him.

They whispered and chuckled at Estel, obviously thinking that he could not hear their soft words.

But he could. Every vile word they spoke echoed in his ears and remained their, haunting his thoughts and making him realize truly how low Legolas had stooped if these were his friends.

"Guy's, leave him alone."

Aragorn was surprised when he heard Legolas say this and he wondered why the prince cared. Why not join in on the fun?

He was pondering this when he felt a gust of air wavering in front of him. He slowed his pace only enough so he wouldn't run straight into the waving hand before him.

"Oh, come on Legolas. We're just having a bit of fun."

The ranger heard the elf prince gasp and step forward, but he was not prepared or warned when a slender leg caught his own, lame one.

He gasped slightly and let go of his walking stick, preparing to catch himself on his hands or at least somehow keep his body from contacting with the hard marble floor.

Aragorn cried out softly as he hit the stone, his heart pounding and mind reeling as pain flared in his leg and an even more haunting hurt exploded in his heart.

"Oooo. I am sorry." the elf hissed, acting as if he really was apologizing. But Aragorn heard right through the dishonest facade.

Before Aragorn could even realize what was going on, he felt a protective presence hover over him and an angry, shocked voice cut the horrible silence.

"I cannot believe what I am seeing!" the prince growled, low and menacing as if he were a wolf protecting his den or even his pups. "I chose you four to travel with me because I believed that you were merciful and caring. Not immature and foolish!" he snarled. "Get out of my sight! Go on! Oh! And I would apologize to Lord Elrond for causing his son so much grief and pain!"

Almost immediately after the outburst, Estel felt a warm pressure upon his right leg. He didn't hardly breath as he felt the pain begin to subside.

"I'm sorry." He heard the elven prince say.

But for all his wisdom, he could not understand why Legolas would care. Not wishing in the slightest to be hurt again, the man scooted away, pulling himself from the prince and hoping that Legolas would forget this and go off to be with his bully friends.

Confusion heavy on his voice, the Mirkwood prince came closer to Aragorn. "Estel, it's me. It's Legolas."

Aragorn turned his face away, his dark hair shielding his face. "I know." His whisper was soft and Legolas strained to hear it. Estel could hear the prince's breathing and he was even sure he heard, somewhere, the patter of a tear on the marble. But, for all he knew, it could have been the rainstorm outside. "You can go. You know where the dining hall is."

Momentary silence followed. Then he heard the prince's voice over his words, obviously a little baffled by what Aragorn had said.

"What? But, I don't want to go without you."

"Sure you do. Go with your friends. Maybe they saved you a-"

Legolas huffed, interrupting Strider and sounding sorrowful and full of unshed tears. "Shut up, Estel!"

He now felt the elf's eyes boring into him like fiery gaze that would not be trifled with. "I thought you were dead! For over twenty years I waited for a letter to come! I waited for you to write and tell me you were alive! But, I never got that letter! And you know what! I thought you had died, so I gave up! I let phony friends take over my life and rule me, even though I am the prince. I miss you, Aragorn! I-" he stopped and Estel could hear the tears from Legolas's cheeks dropping to the floor. "I thought I had lost you, and for a while. I wanted to die too!"

"No," Aragorn spoke, disbelief in his voice. "I sent the letter. I wrote it and then, I set it on my desk because 'Dan and 'Ro called me outside. I decided to leave the letter there and bring it out later." he gulped and rubbed his neck. "But when I came back, it was gone. I thought Ada had taken it and sent it off already. So I waited, and I waited, and I waited until I thought I was going to go mad with worry." The man shook his head. "But nothing ever came back, I thought you had decided you did not want to be friends because of Arwen."

It took a moment after he finished but he realized that he heard someone…someone chuckling. He squinted, smiling and befuddled. "What on Arda are you laughing about?"

"You, know." Legolas said as he finally gained composure. "This is all our fathers' fault. None of this would have happened had Elrond just let me and my father stay."

"Well, you would have had to wait a week anyway. Ada said my coma lasted awhile after you left."

At the mention of the horrid memory, both friends thought back upon those last, cold nights when each had been forced to say goodbye.

Reaching forward hesitantly, Aragorn laid a hand on his friend's shaking shoulder. "I am alive, Legolas. There is no need to go back and visit unpleasant times."

The ranger was surprised when he felt a pressure wrap around him and he gasped as his side flared with pain. But, he kept it in for Legolas's sake. Tentatively, he wrapped his own arms around the prince.

"I can't help it," The Mirkwood Prince sobbed. "I thought I had lost my best friend! OH, Estel! I wanted to die!"

Aragorn, feeling suddenly so blessed smiled and hugged his friend tighter.

His eyes filled with tears, though he would not shed them, and he sighed contentedly for the first time in a long time. But even more than that, he smiled.

Leaning against the balustrade, Frodo watched warmly as elf and man hugged tightly for the first time in perhaps sixty years or more.

The hobbit could not help but smile as both friends began laughing and he knew instantly that this friendship he saw before him would never again be torn apart. Not man, nor beast, nor waves of the ocean could tear two so close apart.

Sam, seeing Frodo chuckled. "Mister Frodo, your gonna fall of 'o there!"

Startled momentarily, the older hobbit looked back and smiled thankfully at his friend. "No, Sam. Thank you- I will be fine."

Shrugging, the gardener walked to his master and looked through the bars of the handrail.

He too, upon seeing the happily reunited company, smiled. "Oh, Mister Frodo, it was just a misunderstanding!" he whispered excitedly, watching the elf and man with much interest.

Frodo chuckled. "Indeed it was." He sighed and pushed away, looking at his friend with a warm smile. "Well, we should leave them to themselves, we have a banquet to attend to."

Sam, a little hesitant to leave, finally consented and followed his master. "Do you think they will play any part in the destruction of 'it'?" he nodded back towards Aragorn and Legolas, who they could still hear speaking and laughing. "They make a pretty good team, I am sure."

The older of the two hobbits nodded assuredly and patted Sam upon the back. "Time will tell, Sam." He chuckled and shook his dark head, looking back as a loud crash sounded from behind them.

Both Frodo and Sam stopped a moment to see the tall, slender elf wrapping his arm around the human and helping him walk forward slowly.

The hobbits laughed and Frodo nodded once more. "Time will tell."

FINIS

WOOHOO! Yes, the story is FINISHED! MWAHAHA!

Ok, done being crazy.

So, there is a sequel to this one, but I haven't really even ironed it out yet, so it's not my next story that I am posting.

I think I will probably post one of the others that I have been working on. 

Oh, and I just wanted to brag- I know it's a bad thing, forgive me- that I am now the two time merit winning short story writer in my district. That means, that I am the best! Mwahaha! LOL!

Oh and I am the second best artist. LOL! I'm such a snob!

Anyway, I've gotta run but I wanted to thank you all so much for sticking with this story and not giving up on it no matter how long it took for me to update. I will try to do better on updating the next one. You guys rock!

Thanks again for the tons of reviews I got and you all have my blessings! Pray for me and my family because we want to all go to Florida this summer for National Fine Arts and it's turning out to cost a lot. I REALLY want my family to come and it's my last chance since I am getting to old for this stuff. Gosh, I feel like Wendy in Peter Pan. I never want to grow up!

Anyway, if you guys could pray that we find some really snazzy deals for flights that would be totally wicked! Blessings and thanks again!

(I know, I'm not supposed to write these stupid notes, but hey, I'm a rebel. LOL!)

-Romans10:9